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Wind turbines are used to generate electricity. But how can engineers determine their efficiency and health?

ImageSandia’s Wind Energy Technology Department has developed a device, the Accurate Time Linked data Acquisition System (ATLAS II), which answers that question and can provide all of the information necessary to understand how well a machine is performing. Housed in an environmentally protected aluminum box, ATLAS II is capable of sampling a large number of signals at once to characterize the inflow, the operational state, and the structural response of a wind turbine.  The ATLAS II has several key attributes that make it particularly attractive for wind turbine deployment. It is small, highly reliable, can operate continuously, uses off-the-shelf components, and has lightning protection on all channels. Last year the ATLAS II team completed a project with GE Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to monitor the performance of a GE wind turbine in a Great Plains site about 30 miles south of Lamar, Colo., and will soon start monitoring a new work-for-others (WFO) project with Texas Tech University.
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